Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 Remembered

It was on the route to my teaching job at Palisade High School, eight years ago that I caught the unsettling news of one of the Twin Towers having been hit by an airplane. I was on I 70, near Mt. Garfield. Then, entering the school, I found all the Channel One Television Programs on screen, as the news was being covered, live. Faculty and students were watching for most of the day. One of the teachers was very worried because her daughter lived in New Jersey and commuted to Manhattan. Her stop was the Twin Towers. luckily she had been sick and was to take a later train.
Today, while working at one of the schools in the District, students, who were either in kindergarten or grade one at that time in history did have memories. For most,these  memories were watching television because parents or teachers were watching. Several  were with their parents on the way to school. The news came via the radio. Several watched their mother's crying, one or two went back home.
"We were on the way to school; the radio was on when we heard about the plane hitting the tower," a student noted. "My mom cried and we went back home."
"We were at the airport and going to fly out to Disney World," another student said. "The flight was canceled."
That was the day all flights were grounded excpt the one carrying the Ben Laden family out of the States back to Saudia Arabia, sent by the then President Bush.
Another student recalled that her family went to New York because they lost their cousin, a fire fighter, in the towers. Another, who had lived in Trenton, New Jersey at the time, described how her school had been closed for a time due to the noxious gases that drifted their way from the explosion caused by the collapse of the two towers.
A student who was living with her family on a military base in Arizona remembered that her mom had driven off base and it took five hours to get back to the home because the military was checking every vehicle for anythng that might smack of danger.
A Christmas card we received that year, was a photo of my son and his wife sitting on a bench across the harbor from the then standing Twin Towers. The photo had been taken the month before 9/11.
That following October, I had scheduled an art trip to Chicago for a dozen or so students. Several canceled due to fear of traveling but the rest decided not to let the terrorists ruin their chance to travel and experience America. We flew to Chicago where the group had some great experiences, including eating at a black tie restaurant on the 84th floor of the John Hancock Building. Not too many patrons were in the restaurant so they were happy to see a group of high school students, dressed up for a formal dinner. It was the 84th floor which the first plane had crashed into the first tower.
Judging from the severe slack in air travel for months that followed the horrific attack,  in doing other activities related to travel, the terroists had succeeded in striking fear into many. There were others who defied that feeling and lived life, just going on, living, and doing, as they normally would have done.
After working in the school today, facing teens whose future is uncertain, whose skies may someday be filled with dark billows of who knows what, I do have hope, because I feel they will make the world a better place as they learn compassion and the value of a good education where they are taught to think, not to just blindly follow.
This act of blind following seems to be the disease of this generation, as evidenced by those who would back the Congressman who disgraced himself at the Presidents's address last evening, now opening his door to every anti-democratic, paid to disrupt, group that has been formed. I shuddered at the description of the American Rural Group who actually call their followers to arms, to openly rebel. Will America fall to its own people, those that simply mindlessly follow, who believe the propaganda spread by organized anti-American groups?
Let us pray.
May the darkness that clouds hearts of Americans,
The darkness colored by greed for power,
Be lifted by the innocence of youth,
Youth who learn to lead and to think for themselves,
Youth who will shake the schakles of fear mongering and untruths.
Let us pray that our country will survive the onslaught of
     negative talk show hosts, biased media, hateful legislatures.
Let us pray, and pray hard!
The future of what was a great nation depends on this.

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